Role Reversal

This poem quoted by JL Moreno is an illustration of the concept of role reversal in Psychodrama.

When someone steps forward and says ‘yes’ to being spontaneous and thereby to being creative, they are open to the possibilities of changing perspectives.

As I’ve directed Psychodramas over the years, I have come to see the Psychodrama Stage as a laboratory where the protagonist experiments with different possibilities and outcomes. Relationships are explored and as role reversal takes place, the protagonist gets to experience the Other and the psyche of the Other that lives in them.

We all have a version of our Mother, our Father, our sibling, our enemy that lives in us. This version when brought on the stage gets concretized (or made concrete/ real) by the use of another group member who takes on the role as an Auxillary. As the protagonist reverses roles and takes on the role of the Other, he or she can then take on the posture, speech style and warm up to being that Other person. Their version emerges and the encounter with the Auxillary playing them takes place. They then reverse roles and the Auxillary (as the Other) will repeat what has been said and the protagonist experiences a dialogue with the Other. This goes on with several role reversals until the Protagonist’s purpose has been achieved with the Director.

This experiencing of a different perspective engages empathy and deepens understanding of the Other. Moreno called this the Encounter.

The poem quoted is from his seminal book “Who Shall Survive”.